Last updated June 20, 2017

Increased Frequency Intense NW Pacific Typhoons

Climate change has been found to increase the rainfall and storm surge associated with hurricanes, and there is strong evidence that climate change also increases the intensity and wind speed of cyclones. While the details are still being explored, the basics are simple. Sea level rise fuels the storm surge driven by hurricanes. Warmer air holds more moisture, feeding more precipitation from all storms including hurricanes. Hurricanes need warm water, and climate change warms sea surface temperatures, contributing to an increase in hurricane intensity, and with that an exponential increase in damage.

Northwest Pacific trends

In 2015, accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) in the western North Pacific was extreme, and human-caused climate change "largely increas[ed] the odds of the occurrence of this event," according to the fifth edition of "Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective" by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.[1]

A number of studies have identified increasing trends in intense typhoon frequencies in the Northwest Pacific.[2][3][4][5][6]

A 2016 study documented the tight connection between increasing ocean warmth and the increasing intensity of typhoons in the western North Pacific, finding that "the energy needed for deep convection is on the rise with greater heat and moisture in the lower tropical troposphere," and that as a result, super typhoons in the region are, "likely to be stronger at the expense of overall tropical cyclone occurrences."[2]

However, other recent modeling work projects an increase in both the frequency and intensity of typhoons in the western North Pacific.[7]

Satellite-based intensity trends since 1981 show more modest trends.[8]

A study attempting to reconcile previous discrepancies among different sources of observations on typhoon intensity in the region identifies a trend of stronger, but fewer events.[5]


Global trends

Visit "Increased Frequency Intense Cyclones" to discover climate change links to global cyclone trends.